Watch: Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed attends the Republic Day parade in India with delegates from the UAE. #MarhabaHindustan
Watch: Indian black cat commandos march during the Indian Republic Day parade. Video by Chiranjib Sengupta/Gulf News
Watch: Republic Day parade in India — Tableaus, brass band, tanks and more. Video by Chiranjib Sengupta/Gulf News
Historic bond celebrated
India and the UAE celebrated the bonds of their historic friendship in glorious fashion this morning, with a contingent of 179 UAE soldiers marching on Rajpath for the first time as a part of India's 68th Republic Day parade.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was the Chief Guest for the occasion, witnessed the parade flanked by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was a historic and proud moment for the UAE and the Arab world, with its troops comprising a mix from the army, navy and air force leading the parade.
The UAE contingent was led by Brig Obaid Al Zahumi, while Major General Rajesh Sahai was the second in command from the Indian side. The UAE contingent's march was as impressive as the delightful tune of Kaptien that the band played along.
From a 21-gun salute that accompanied the Indian national anthem to initiate the day's proceedings to a stunning display by motor cycle daredevils from the Indian army, the Republic Day ceremony stood out in all its splendour despite the occasional drizzle and overcast skies.
The morning started with the arrival of Shaikh Mohammad and Mukherjee to the specially-made enclosure on Rajpath — the arterial highway on New Delhi that connects the presidential palace to the India Gate. Shaikh Mohammad was received by Modi and following Republic Day protocol, he presented to the Chief Guest and the President the Indian ministers of defence, the three military service chiefs and the defence secretary.
Following the national anthem, three helicopters flew past in a formation, unfurling the Indian flag.
A march by various army columns, specially the mechanised ones displaying the Bhishma T-90 tanks and the Brahmos and Akash missile defence systems drew gasps of amazement from the thousands of people who had gathered since early in the morning, among them several UAE ministers, top officials, business delegates and other dignitaries from the country.
In a series of tweets, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed applauded the decades-old special friendship between the UAE and India.
“I am very delighted and honored to share Republic Day celebrations with the Indian people. India sends a civilised message to the rest of the world as its people - from diverse ethnicities, religions and sects - celebrate in unity,” he said. The UAE is the second country after France to send its troops to participate in the Indian Republic Day parade.
Among the highlights of the spectacular ceremony were a march by the BSF Camel Contingent – the world’s only camel-mounted armed forces, enchanting tableaux from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu showcasing traditional folk dances of the states, a display of Yak dance from Arunachal Pradesh, an enticing musical serenade by the Goan tableau and a stunning display of skills by the Indian army’s motorcycle daredevils.
In typical Republic Day fashion, India also showcased several government initiatives in the social, industrial and technology sectors through innovative tableaux displays, such as the Clean India Green India initiative, the 75th anniversary of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Save the Girl Child campaign by the Haryana government and the Prime Minister’s Urban Housing scheme.
Earlier, a steady drizzle failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands of people who began assembling around the boulevard from early morning. A massive security lockdown was in place since Wednesday night, with policemen and special forces from Delhi Police fanning out throughout the city to keep a watchful eye. Posters notifying the public of the closure of key roads, traffic diversions and rules for the temporary security protocol were posted on every street corner and junction, as ubiquitous as the flags of the UAE around the key streets and landmarks of Delhi. But despite the long queues for the general public to enter and the downpour, the crowd seemed to enjoy every moment of a carnival atmosphere.